The job? An 11-hour shift to see that no runner is down and, if so, call for help. I also end up replacing stolen/blown away signage. And giving the thumbs up to runners as I cycle past, to shyly and silently cheer them on. Some smile. Others wave. Some do both. Some do none, they look ahead and keep going.
I continue my patrols. At a junction where people have reportedly turned the wrong way, I sweep the area for several km, looking for lost runners, then resume patrol on the official route.
A girl passes a runner. She must've done about 60 km already."Well done," she says. "All the way," he replies. I pass an old man. His wispy white hair stands out from under his hat. I ask him if he needs anything. He wants a sip of water, so I squirt from my water bottle into his mouth. I look at his bib, he's signed up for the 100 mile run. He has over 100 km more to go. I later find out he's 70 years old.
At checkpoint 4, which I adopt as my refueling base, there's an aunty who volunteers because she is free. And a girl clocking community involvement hours - a school requirement. They prepare sandwiches, watermelon and liquid meals for runners. A thoughtful volunteer puts ice into a container, which we use to spray onto runners who want to wash their faces and/or cool down. When runners stop for food and drink, they reek of sweat and valour. None of the ladies at the checkpoint have proper meals for lunch, just biscuits and stuff. They decline my offer to buy dinner for them. Mosquitoes feast on them - the volunteers, not the biscuits and stuff.
Over 200 people have signed up for the ultra, including about 80 for 100 km and about 60 for 100 miles. While others have organised 100 km runs before, no one, as far as I know, has organised a 100 mile run on this little island that's about 40 km at its widest point.
I'm so inspired, I've done several marathons and, seeing ultra marathoners, I know they're a breed apart. They dress differently and behave differently. Some wear caps with flaps, and carry phones, light, food and water. Some grit, some grin and show a whole lot of heart. I'm touched some won't leave strangers behind.